ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi Saturday reiterated Pakistan’s support for the Afghan National Unity Government’s efforts to bring lasting peace in Afghanistan. -
He assured the Afghan leadership that Pakistan, along with other partners, was ready to play a constructive role in facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and reconciliation.
The foreign minister led a high level official delegation on his maiden foreign visit to Kabul.
During the visit, he met Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah and held delegation level talks with his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani.
“The visit provided an opportunity to set out the contours of the new government’s future engagement with Afghanistan to build mutually beneficial relationship and enhance cooperation between the two countries,” the Foreign Office in a press statement said.
During his visit, Qureshi conveyed to the Afghan leadership that the new government attached importance to its relations with Afghanistan and would work towards further deepening cooperation in the fields of trade development and connectivity.
The foreign minister handed over a letter from Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed to the Afghan President marking the first consignment of 40,000 tonnes of wheat gifted to the Afghan people.
He underscored the importance of cooperation and coordination between the two countries in the areas of counter-terrorism and security and offered to train Afghan police and law enforcement agencies in Pakistani institutions.
The Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) provided the most useful platform to deliver the objectives, he added.
Qureshi also underlined the importance of frequent high level engagements between the two countries that had contributed in building trust and improving mutual understanding.
He emphasized to maintain the upward trajectory in bilateral relations through more high level visits during the upcoming months. He also invited President Ghani to visit Pakistan.
In the context of enhancing trade between the two countries, Pakistan had decided to waive off regulatory duty on imports from Afghanistan. As a result Afghan exports to Pakistan have recorded substantial increase of 118 percent in 2018.
The minister said Pakistan would fast-track steps, including standardization and automation of custom procedures, up-gradation of infrastructure at crossing points between the two countries. For the second phase of 3000 scholarships, more than 600 scholarships had already been granted and Afghan students would start their semester next fall.
The two foreign ministers took decisions on four meetings, including hosting of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC), to convene the meeting of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA), meeting of the Steering Committee of the Joint Ulema Conference and the meeting of the working groups of APAPPS.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi highlighted the unmatched hospitality extended by the people of Pakistan for their Afghan brothers and sisters, and underlined the need for dignified, sustainable and repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland through a gradual and time-bound plan.
They also agreed to expedite matters related to providing necessary security to Pakistan Consulate General in Jalalabad to ensure its early operationalization.